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1992 Riviera Cruiser refresh

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  • 1992 Riviera Cruiser refresh

    This past summer I purchased my first boat for my family to take on the lakes in NY. We have been on a friend's boat and had a good time. Now it is my turn to own one. I want to use this thread to document the boat's refresh (as it seems good, just looks tired). Hope to gain some good advice from those in the know and to help others avoid the mistakes I am sure to make myself.

    It is a 20 foot 1992 Riviera Cruiser with a 1996 Evinrude 48 SPL outboard. I will post some pics shortly when I can pull them off my phone.

    So, this was a Craigslist special from someone who lost an elderly family member. It was kept in really good shape for being 2 decades old. The carpet was shot, warn through to the wood deck in spots, the seats were replacement ones from the internet, and a little bit rough, and the Bimini top had patches on top of the patches. The one thing I did not like is the throttle controls we're on the left of the helm and I am right handed. There are no guages or indicator lights, only a single push pull switch for the navigation lights. The big draw was the fencing was in great shape, the pontoons and deck looked good and the thing came with a trailer.

    We took it for a test drive on one of the Finger Lakes and it seemed solid, so she came home with us and became the Blue Lagoon. And this is where my journey starts.

  • #2
    Here are a couple of pics. She was not in bad shape just a bit ragged around the edges.

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    • #3
      Time to strip it down......

      The furniture was not bolted down except the captain's chair and helm console. Next was to take off the fencing and edging. I love old pontoon boats, all nuts and bolt, no special tools required. Some of the plywood was delaminating so I decided to replace it. The old stuff was held on with self tapping screws. However, the PT lumber rusted all the screws really bad at the head so they stripped pretty easily.

      The best method I found after trying several was to use a 2" hole saw and cut a hole around the old screw. First I used it with the pilot bit to get the circle started but not deep enough to drill into the crossmember, then pulled out the pilot bit and used just the hole saw, went slow until I felt a change in the bit when it touched metal. Then just pry up the old deck which will look like swiss cheese. Then I used a screw driver to break off the wood discs left on the screw heads. And for the final touch, I used an angle grinder and zipped off the screws on the top and bottom of the cross member. Now I have a clean surface to work from.

      Note I tried using vise grips to wrench out the screws from the bottom up and quickly gave up there. I tried to sawzall off the deck laying the blade flat along the crossmember, it kinda worked but would gouge the crossmember so I decided to stop there. There was not enough head threads left to use a driver, so I went with the hole saw.

      Note on the hole saw............ These heads are like 5/8" across, use a big enough hole saw. I bought one that was an 1 1/2 inches. Well that is outside diameter, figure about only about 1 1/4 inside, then take another 1/4" off for the pilot and you are down to an inch, then only 1/2 of that is available for the drilling, so I had 1/2" to cut around a 5/8" screw. Yippee another trip to the hardware store. Don't say you were not warned......

      Tools used: wrenches/sockets, hole saw, angle grinder, and a large screwdriver. Nothing special.
      Last edited by Aardvarkjff; November 8th, 2018, 04:39 PM.

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      • #4
        New Decking!!!!!

        Well after taking off the old wood and grinding off the old screws, I had a nice flat skeleton to work off of. This is considered a 20' boat but the wood deck is only 19' so I had to get 5 sheets of plywood. I know there is an endless debate about wood, but being a poor miser, I went to a local plywood dealer. And yes, there is a company that specializes in sheet goods near by. I picked up exterior, pressure treated, kiln dried plywood. This is supposedly used as the backing for signs and such and is OK to be left exposed to the elements. Being kiln dried it is good to go for putting the carpet on, so I went with that. About 50.00 a sheet.

        Now these are just square edged and a bit bowed. So I used my router that I had with the tongue and groove bit to route a tongue and groove. I had everything I needed so what could go wrong? Nothing unless you count the router crapping out right before the last cut. ARGH! Another trip to the hardware store!

        Before I put any of that pressure treated plywood on my nice clean aluminum frame, I used some self adhesive flashing used to install windows and doors. It is a rubbery membrane that has a foil cover. I just cut to strips and stuck it to my crossmembers, foil side up. Now there is no wood to metal contact.

        Now I used those self tapping deck screws and was having a hard time getting them to countersink flush so I decided to drill a pilot hold and that helped, but did not really help with getting the heads flush, so after getting a countersink (from the hardware store where the owner smiles everytime I pull up), that worked well. Now all my screws are nicely counter sunk and my seams are nice and smooth.

        Some tips I would like to share.......... I had some sheets that were not completely flat. So they would not join easily. I found that if I used a ratchet strap on each end, I could apply force between the sheets drawing them together and work the T & G's together. That way I was able to wrangle 2 sheets of plywood by myself, even if they were a bit warped. I did use some polyurethane glue in the grooves before the final assembly and screwing it down.

        Once I started placing the plywood down it took me about 5 hours to get things where I wanted them, all screwed and glued. I used some wood filler to cover up the countersunk screw heads and other defects in the wood. Then I used my cheapo belt sander to sand down any high spots.

        One thing I did was set all the fencing in place and marked the spots for the fencing bolts and drilled them out, that way I could feel the holes through the carpet and know exactly where to pierce the carpet without needing to drill wood.

        Tools used: Drills/bits, driver bit for screws, counter sink bit. Optional: ratchet straps, router, tongue and groove bits, belt sander.
        Last edited by Aardvarkjff; November 8th, 2018, 05:35 PM.

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        • #5
          I want to share these experiences to encourage others not to be intimidated by the thought of fixing up and old pontoon boat. I work in an office and have no special training. All the things I used were common tools or I bought on the cheap somewhere. If I can do it, so can you. This project is an excellent way for my teenage son and I to work together and have some fun without the video games.

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          • #6
            It's Carpet Time!!!

            With the wood down and all sanded, I used a leaf blower to get all the dust off from the belt sander. I'm not going to lie, it worked good but the neighbors probably wished I did not do it at night.

            The carpet was ordered online and cost about 300.00 with the glue. We wanted to use that new woven vinyl flooring, but man it was expensive and this is my first boat and an old one at that, so we opted for carpet.

            The only thing I had to by was a 20.00 hand roller from Lowe's flooring section. I will likely never use it again and consider it a loss but for 20.00 it had a spectacular 45 minutes before being tossed in the forgotten tool bin.

            I was concerned about dripping glue that may squeeze out so I took some cardboard (actually RAMBOARD) and made gutters duct taped to the supports so anything that runs off the deck will be caught into the "gutters". As for those holes I drilled in the deck for the fence bolts, I did not want anything dripping onto the pontoons from those, so I put little disposable plastic cups under them with duct tape. The ones you use when brushing your teeth. All in all, they worked great, I had some big glops of glue that they caught. My cleanup of this part was peeling off the duct tape and tossing the cardboard and cups.

            I rolled out the carpet and it was wrinkled pretty bad, I left it in the heated garage for 2 days to let it flatten out. It was still wrinkled when I glued it down and when rolled out it was smooth. Don't panic at first. Now I used the water based glue and put it on real thick. I rolled the back 1/2 of the carpet forward so the front half was still in place and ended in a roll. I put out about 5 feet of glue real heavy with a roller. I dumped it on the deck the spread it around. I then rolled out the carpet from the middle out to where the glue stopped. I used the roller and hand rolled it out starting in the center of the boat and moving out towards the side and back. Then poured more on the last of the rear deck, spread, unroll, and hand roll. Next roll the front half of the boat back towards the center. Same thing with the other gallon, spread out, unroll, hand roll, and repeat.

            Once all the carpet was down, I got back on and started re-rolling it starting from the centerline and moving out towards the edges. For a finishing touch, I used stainless steel staples along the edge so it would not pull up as the glue dries. Remember they should be stainless steel staples. I used a simple T-50 stapler and stainless staples from Lowe's.

            I did not cut off the excess from the edges until it was completely dry, a few days just to be sure. It took me about 3 hours to set up the drip guards and roll out the carpet.

            Tools used: Paint roller (to be thrown out after), utility knife, hand roller/rolling pin (ask wife first). Optional: Stapler with stainless steel staples.

            You may need to click on the photos to see the 4th one.

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            • #7
              I am now assembling the helm and will post pics in the future. Thanks for viewing.

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              • #8
                Looks like a nice project and it is going well. Make sure you check the motor transom to verify it is not weak or rotting.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pumba11 View Post
                  Looks like a nice project and it is going well. Make sure you check the motor transom to verify it is not weak or rotting.
                  Ahhhh. With all the aluminum, rot is not an issue. I did note that out of the water the last crossmenber was bowing slightly. I don't know if the is the case when it is in the water, but to be sure, I added a 2" x 2" .25 wall aluminum square tube between the last and second to last crossmenber. By using a square tube it is like 2 C channels in my mind.

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                  • #10
                    Your Transom IS wood. It needs to be checked for rot. If you can't see it it may have an aluminum cover but...It's there.
                    1961 Lonestar Flamingo - SPLASHED...Kinda!!
                    Fabricating Decks, Stringers, and Transoms
                    Paint Your Boat with Tractor Paint...Say What!!!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Woodonglass View Post
                      Your Transom IS wood. It needs to be checked for rot. If you can't see it it may have an aluminum cover but...It's there.
                      Ah-ha, I assume we are talking about the crazy thick plywood spacer looking thing that is bolted to the aluminum "pod" that the engine then bolts to that? It is like plywood that is almost 2 inches thick? If so, that is ok. Please forgive the ignorance, I am new to boating.

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                      • #12
                        Time to see a Professional.

                        I forgot to mention that before I bought anything to start the project, I did take it to a local marina. They checked my compression (150 in both cylinders), starts well, did say the carbs could use a rebuild for optimal performance. Overall the boat is a solid one and runs well. They took it for a test drive so to speak and everything works well. Being in NYS, I had them winterize it for me. Cost about 220.00 for this. Can't say if it was a good deal, but I have peace of mind I did not start out with a lemon. I mention this because I am no boat expert nor do I work with engines let alone boat engines. Sometimes I know when to ask for professional help.

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                        • #13
                          Take a pic of the back of the boat and we can give you better advice. What makes you think the 2" plywood is OK?
                          1961 Lonestar Flamingo - SPLASHED...Kinda!!
                          Fabricating Decks, Stringers, and Transoms
                          Paint Your Boat with Tractor Paint...Say What!!!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Woodonglass View Post
                            Take a pic of the back of the boat and we can give you better advice. What makes you think the 2" plywood is OK?
                            I'll try and snap a few pics when I get home. Thanks for the advice.

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                            • #15
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                              Originally posted by Woodonglass View Post
                              Take a pic of the back of the boat and we can give you better advice. What makes you think the 2" plywood is OK?
                              Transom pics.....

                              Below are 2 pics I snapped today. Can I assume that this wooden piece is the transom we are talking about? Now this is actually just thicker than 1.5 inches. The wood seems solid, I jabbed around with a screwdriver and it did not go in anymore than just superficially. I see that the wood is only bolted to that thick aluminum plate and it is that plate that is bolted to the sides of that "pod". It looks like it was painted or something.

                              Can you tell me what I should ideally be looking for in this situation? Being a noob, I welcome any advice. Thanks. (now back to wiring my helm console.......)

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